Anyone can send flowers or take mom out to brunch on Mother’s Day. But, we in the automotive department at Crave Online think it’s better to get her dear heart thumping a little faster by getting her out for a ride on an iron horse.
As an early gift for this Mother’s Day, I got the 68-year-old woman who bore me onto a motorcycle for the first time in her life. My mother is not the biker type. She’s more into gardening and animals, so this would prove to be outside her comfort zone quite a bit.
Obviously, I wanted a big, safe, stable ride so she might enjoy the experience the first time out. Though they’re beautiful bikes, you don’t throw your mom on a Ducati or a Yamaha YZF-R1 her first time out there.
Where do you go for the beefy, smooth touring ride? I chose a 2012 Harley-Davidson Electra Guide Ultra Limited. It’s big, long name for a big-lone motorcycle that comes kitted out with everything you’d need for a very comfortable ride.
This is a classic touring motorcycle – the kind of flowing, stable ride you’d expect from the bigger Harley-Davidsons like this, the Switchback or one of the larger CVOs. Since the entire point of the ride was to give a passenger a proper riding experience, the Ultra Limited’s deep bucket and narrow neck spared my thighs, butt and groin (Sorry…) the kind of strain a city cruiser can provide on tandem rides.
For a big saddle matched with an equally big fuel, it rides low enough for your feet to use the foot rests and pegs with balance and confidence.
The passenger saddle provided enough security and back support for the older lady riding along with me. She was clearly nervous as we started out – judging by the bear hug I had around my mid-section. But, the wrap-around feel of the rear seat had her calmed down after a couple miles.
Just for giggles, good ole’ mom put her purse in the ample hard bags. That sounds dirty somehow, but all it means is the Ultra Limited packs the standard issue cargo space a Harley-Davidson touring bike demands.
As though the cargo space isn’t enough, this Ultra Limited came complete with the Harley Tour-Pak luggage carrier, and the Harley-Davidson saddlebag off side pockets for cell phones and whatever else mom’s tuck away.
The Twin Cam 103 engine driving the bike packs enough torque to keep the bike smoothly accelerating to freeway speed – though mom would’ve disowned me in time for Mother’s Day if I’d have taken her down an onramp.
A fat, 17-inch front tire aids the front steering, even if the bike is a challenge to turn in a smaller radius with a guest rider on the back. You need upper body strength and confidence to bring this motorcycle around with an extra hundred lbs or so in the rear passenger spot.
Of course, adequate anti-lock brakes are as important as the driving power of the big bike. Harley-Davidson went the extra mile here by including elite Brembo brakes with a 4-piston front and rear caliper and a dual front rotor brake system.
Since this is a Mother’s Day themed review, all that matters is what the lady on the back of the bike thought of the Ultra Limited.
The official verdict: “I was scared to death at first, but it seemed OK after that.”
OK. A positive, though reserved report. Maybe I’ll take her on a track day next year and see how she takes to that.